It is terrifying to think of others thinking of me in those memories. I’ve spent my life trying to hide that I was ever that kid. Even the incredible, wonderful, handsome, intelligent person that I am now is not enough to guard me from my own dangerous thoughts when those memories come to the surface. Even as I’m writing this, I so desperately want to delete it and write something funny. But that’s what I’ve done my entire life. And change doesn’t happen when people with voices don’t use them.
I won’t delete it. Not this time. Instead, let’s talk about what we can do to end the bullying.
There are two people we need to discuss. The bullies and the bullied. Let’s start with the bullies.
I am going on thirty-one years old. I have spent the second half of my life studying self-esteem, self-love, and self-mastery. In the last several years, I have been blessed with the perspective to look back at those “horrible” years, and realize that the bullying I was receiving was simply the symptom of the bullying that the bullies were receiving in their own lives, whether it was their family, other bullies, or the “Perfection” going on around them. You see, I’ve learned one universal truth. People who love themselves, don’t hurt other people. The more we hate ourselves, the more we want others to suffer. Every bully that bullied me (and by the end of junior high there were at least a dozen of them) was a desperate and hurting individual. The victim of something going on around them. A soul that was probably crying in solitude as often as I was, even if the crying was silent.
And so, I will ask you now to not hate the bullies. Experience tells me that hating them, or being angry with them, will always make it worse. Instead, put your arm around them. Love them. Tell them that they are valuable. Tell them that you expect great things from them. They will stop the bullying. They will stop, because they will start to love themselves. And people who love themselves don’t bully others.
And with the bullies, it’s really that simple. If they actually believe that somebody loves them and believes in them, they will love themselves, they will become better people, and many will even become saviors to the bullied.
If you are a parent to a child who is less than kind to other kids, I’d very much suggest you read my post from last week, You just broke your child. Congratulations. In fact, every parent should read it. As much as we may not want to mentally go there, a lot of the problem may lie in us. If the problem doesn’t, the solution does. We all must understand that we have the obligation, as parents, to help our kids love themselves.
Now, let’s talk about the bullied. If you haven’t noticed, it’s not generally the bullies that are killing themselves, slaughtering their schoolmates, or building bombs in their bedrooms. It’s the bullied that are doing that. And my heart literally is pounding through my chest right now because I know just how easy it would have been to prevent most of these incidents. I also know all too well, the consuming thoughts that constantly go through the minds of the bullied.
So many kids would still be alive right now, if somebody, anybody, would have done something. So many beautiful, incredible, wonderful souls would still be walking among us if somebody, anybody, would have done something.
And what is that something that you and I must do?
Part of the answer is a mother putting her arm around her daughter over and over again, until she is not able to keep from telling the truth about why she is sad, quiet, or angry.
Part of the answer is a father starting a fun project or taking his son fishing for some one on one time. Enough hours under the hood of a car or on the bank of a river will always bring out desperate truths.
Part of the answer is a grandfather taking his grandchild out for ice cream and simply asking how the other kids treat her at school. For some reason, good grandparents can usually cut straight to the point.
Part of the answer is a teacher doing more than simply telling the bullies to stop. The answer is a warm hand on her pupil’s shoulder, a listening ear, warm words of importance, and then finding a reason for the child to come back the next day, and the next, until that child knows that his presence is cherished.
Part of the answer is a youth director dedicating an entire night to the topic of bullying, and what each child can do when they are the ones being bullied, what to do if they see people being bullied, or what they can change if they realize that they themselves are guilty of bullying others.
And while each of those small parts of the answer are crucial, there is one big part to the answer.
Peers. Classmates. Fellow pupils. Did you know that you each have more power over healing the bullied and the bullies than anyone on earth. More than their parents. More than their religious leaders. More than their teachers. The majority of the answer lies in you, and it’s simple.
The answer is as simple as you having the courage to find the kid who just got bullied and telling her, “don’t listen to those guys. My friends and I are always talking about how awesome you are.”
The answer is as simple as you having the courage to then invite her to sit with you at lunch. And it will take courage.
The answer is as simple as you having the courage to find the bully, and in private telling him that you don’t understand why he’s doing that, because you always thought he was a bigger person than that.
The answer is as simple as you having the courage to find the bully, and in private ask her if she’s had a rough day. Care about her. Tell her you were wondering because of the way she was treating your classmate, and you feel she may be misunderstood. You will be amazed what you will learn.
The answer is as simple as you having the courage to find the boy who just got shoved or tripped and asking him if there is anything you can do to help him. You see, just knowing that you care will plant seeds for his own courage to blossom.
The answer is as simple as you.
The answer is as simple as you having the courage.
Do you have courage like that? I hope so. I don’t want to see any more kids die.
What it really all boils down to is that the answer is as simple as love. Repeated, and constant love…